Woman loses atmospheric river small claims trial ICBC

After the November 2021 floods, a BC woman went to the Civil Settlement Court hoping to get a $500 ICBC deductible back and a collision removed from her driving record.

A BC woman lost her small claims case against ICBC for damages she claims were caused by an atmospheric event on a river in 2021.

Michelle Kovacs told the BC Civil Settlement Court that her vehicle was damaged during the November flood.

In her claim, she said ICBC found her wrongly at fault for water damage to her vehicle. Kovacs asked the court to have the collision removed from her insurance and to reimburse her $500 deductible.

ICBC, however, said it correctly classified the incident as a collision under Kovacs’ insurance policy and denied that Kovacs was entitled to any deductible refund.

Kovacs said she was driving north on 208th Street near 96th Avenue in Langley on Nov. 16, 2021, when she noticed the roadway in front of her was flooded. She said she stopped her 2006 Acura TL, but kept it running, before driving into water on the highway. However, she said that only the front of her car was in the water.

She told the court that several large commercial trucks passed her in both directions and caused large waves of water to hit her vehicle, eventually flooding her engine and interior.

She said the motor died and when she tried to restart it, it wouldn’t work. A tow truck was called and the vehicle was towed to her home.

“It is indisputable that the damage to the vehicle was caused by water in the engine,” Vice President of the Court Andrea Ritchies said in her May 30 decision. “Ultimately, ICBC determined that the vehicle was not worth repairing and it was written off, with Ms. Kovacs paying a $500 deductible.”

Ritchie explained that the issue before her was whether the water damage is a “collision” or a “whole” claim under Kovacs’ insurance policy.

Kovacs said ICBC mischaracterized the incident as a collision claim and argued that it should be a claim under his comprehensive insurance because the damage was due to rising water while his vehicle was stopped.

ICBC, however, argued that Kovacs drove into a body of water, colliding with an object (the water), causing damage to his engine and the interior of the car.

The court ruled that witness statements, along with initial comments made by Kovacs, indicated that she had gone into the water.

“I found out that Ms. Kovacs drove onto the flooded road, her engine stalled while she was doing so and she was trapped,” Ritchie said in dismissing the claim.